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Evaluation of Prison Based Drug Treatment in Pennsylvania: A Research Collaboration Between the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Center for Public Policy at Temple University, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
221 pages
Based on a collaborative research partnership between Temple University’s Center for Public Policy and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, this study examined effective drug treatment programs in prisons.
Focusing on in-prison, residential treatments for hard-core drug users convicted of criminal offenses, this paper presents the results of a collaborative research project between Temple University’s Center for Public Policy and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Arguing that the time incarcerated drug users are in prison provides an ideal opportunity for breaking the cycles of drug abuse and recidivism, the author discusses Therapeutic Community (TC) as an intensive, long-term, structured residential treatment option for drug users. Focusing on inmate characteristics, treatment processes, and treatment outcomes, data for this study were generated by examining in-treatment measures and multiple post-release outcomes for 742 inmate participants and 2,029 members of a comparison group at 5 Pennsylvania State prisons. Following an introduction to both Pennsylvania’s rapid correctional population growth and the partnership that sponsored this project, the author presents an extensive literature review concerning substance dependent offenders’ connections with crime, drug users’ need for treatment, and evaluations of other TC programs. Following a discussion of the methods, procedures, variables, and analyses used to guide this research, the author presents the results of the process evaluation on TC programs at five State prisons. Finding that TC treatment renders positive effects including lower rates of rearrest and reincarceration, employment following release from prison, lower rates of drug relapse, and positive improvements in psychosocial functioning, the author concludes that the effects of TC are statistically significant and encouraging, suggesting the importance of inmates participating in and graduating from TC treatment. This report recommends further policy-relevant research on the interactions between inmate characteristics, treatment processes, and outcomes across multiple sites. An extensive list of references and appendices presenting consent forms, drug screening evaluations, and Department of Corrections databases completes this report.

Date Published: January 1, 2002